Top 10 Patsy Cline Songs
Patsy Cline songs are some of the most essential in the history of country music.
Though she died at the tragically young age of 30, Cline left behind a recorded legacy that is almost unmatched in the country genre. Her rich contralto voice, along with her exceptional vocal phrasing and strong song choices, have made her one of the most iconic and influential singers of the 20th century, whose influence extends beyond country and into pop and rock. In fact, Cline was one of the first country-pop crossover stars, and — along with Kitty Wells — the first to demonstrate that a female performer could become a headlining star in country music.
The Boot celebrates Cline’s life and musical legacy with this list of the Top 10 Patsy Cline Songs.
Cline had already been successful on both the pop and country charts by the time she released “So Wrong”: She’d already delivered a string of her biggest hits, including “I Fall to Pieces,” “Crazy” and “She’s Got You.” Her first single of 1962, “So Wrong” was written by Carl Perkins, Danny Dill and Mel Tillis, and produced by Owen Bradley. It reached No. 14 on the country charts.
“Faded Love” is an old Western swing classic, written by Bob Wills with his father, John Wills, and brother, Billy Jack Wills. But Cline’s recording of the song is the definitive version. She recorded it just prior to the airplane crash that took her life, and it was not released until after her death, when it reached No. 7 on the country charts.
“You’re Stronger Than Me”
Cline recorded “You’re Stronger Than Me” in two versions: a single version that was slower, and a faster version that appeared on the final EP of her life. Written by Hank Cochran and Jimmy Key, “You’re Stronger Than Me” was among Cline’s final recordings; she died less than a year later. George Strait later covered the track on his 2000 album, George Strait.
“Leavin’ on Your Mind”
Cline was at the height of her career when she released “Leavin’ on Your Mind”: After a string of failed singles, she had scored back-to-back country and pop success with “Crazy” and “I Fall to Pieces,” and followed up with “She’s Got You.” Wayne Walker and Webb Pierce wrote “Leavin’ on Your Mind” for her, and it reached No. 8 on the country charts. It was intended for her next album, which never happened; she died the following March, and the song was instead released on a posthumous compilation album.
Cline had been dead for nearly two decades by the time her rendition of “Always” became a hit. The title track of an album that was put together to promote some of her work from the ’60s, her version of the Irving Berlin classic was originally recorded in 1963, in some of the final sessions of her life. The 1980 single featured modern studio musicians and background vocals overdubbed onto her original performance. It reached No. 18 on the country charts, and would inspire the title of a musical about her life in 1993.
“She’s Got You”
Cline cemented her newfound position as one of the leading lights in country music with the release of “She’s Got You.” She’d already scored with “I Fall to Pieces” and “Crazy,” and when Hank Cochran played the song for her, she was so excited that she sang it over the phone for her manager and producer. They all agreed it was a hit, and her rendition rocketed to the top of the country charts upon its release, giving Cline her second No. 1 hit.
“I Fall to Pieces”
“I Fall to Pieces” has become one of the greatest standards in the country music catalog. Written by Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard, the song only came to Cline after Roy Drusky rejected it, saying it was not a man’s song. She fought with her producer, Owen Bradley, about the arrangement, with its lush strings and backing vocals by the Jordanaires; she actively resisted the pop crossover elements of the song until hearing the studio playback. The resulting record was such a perfect combination of country and pop that it not only became Cline’s first No. 1 country single, it also became a hit in pop and easy listening as well.
“Walkin’ After Midnight”
Cline had been recording since 1954, with very little success, when she scored her first hit as a bit of a fluke. She only recorded the song, which she didn’t particularly like, after compromising with her record label. After she sang the song to a very strong response on the TV show Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, the song was rushed into a single release. It became Cline’s first hit, reaching No. 2 on the country charts and No. 12 in the pop charts. She would not score another hit until 1961.
Cline had broken through to enormous stardom with “I Fall to Pieces” when she recorded “Crazy.” The song was written by Willie Nelson, who was one of the most important songwriters in Nashville at the time, prior to launching his own recording career. Cline initially didn’t like the lush ballad arrangement, and she struggled with the high notes due to broken ribs from a recent car accident. The original session didn’t come off, but when Cline returned to the studio a few weeks later, she recorded the now-iconic vocal in one complete take. The song reached No. 2 in the country charts and has become a staple of the American songbook.
“Sweet Dreams” had already been released twice before Cline recorded it: Don Gibson wrote it and first recorded it, scoring a Top 10 country hit, and Faron Young then took the song to No. 2 when he recorded it. Cline was reluctant about the string arrangements and pop edge to her version of it, which she recorded in what turned out to be the last sessions of her life. After her death, the song became a multi-format smash hit, and later served as the title of a movie about Cline’s life that starred Jessica Lange.